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Nutrition Basics Index
The Food Guide Pyramid
The Food Guide Pyramid
The Food Groups
Putting It Together
What is a Serving?
Closer Look at Fats & Sugar
Rate Your Diet
Dietary Guidelines for Americans
Recommended Dietary Allowances
All about Vitamins
All about Minerals
Putting It Together
How many servings are right for me?

The Pyramid shows a range of servings for each major food group. The number of servings that are right for you depends on how many calories you need, which in turn depends on your age, sex, size, and how active you are. Almost everyone should have at least the lowest number of servings in the ranges.

The calorie level suggestions are based on recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences and on calorie intakes reported by people in national food consumption surveys.

Servings Pyramid
For adults and teens

1,600 calories is about right for many sedentary women and some older adults.

2,200 calories is about right for most children, teenage girls, active women, and many sedentary men. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may need more.

2,800 calories is about right for teenage boys, many active men, and some very active women.
For young children
It is hard to know how much food children need to grow normally. If you're unsure, check with your doctor. Preschool children need the same variety of foods as older family members do, but may need less than 1,600 calories. For fewer calories, they can eat smaller servings. However, it is important that they have the equivalent of 2 cups of milk a day.
For you
Now, take a look at the table below. It tells you how many servings you need for your calorie level. For example, if you are an active woman who needs about 2,200 calories a day, 9 servings of bread, cereals, rice or pasta would be right for you. You'd also want to eat about 6 ounces of meat or alternates per day. Keep total fat (in the foods you choose as well as that used in cooking or added at the table) to about 73 grams per day.

If you are between calorie categories, estimate servings. For example, some less active women may need only 2,000 calories to maintain a healthy weight. At that calorie level, 8 servings from the grain group would be about right.

SAMPLE DIETS FOR A DAY AT 3 CALORIE LEVELS

Lower
about
1,600
Moderate
about
2,200
Higher
about
2,800
Grain Group Servings 6 9 11
Vegetable Group Servings 3 4 5
Fruit Group Servings 2 3 4
Milk Group Servings 2-3* 2-3* 2-3*
Meat Group (ounces)
5
6
7
Total Fat (grams) 53 73 93
Total Added Sugars (teaspoons)

6

12

18

*Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, teenagers, and young adults to age 24 may need more servings.
Meat group amounts are in total ounces.


Look at the next section for further explanation of What is a Serving?

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